Daine Mariel G. Chua

In a departure from his silence last year, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. expressed his desire to unify past political differences to peacefully commemorate the 40th death anniversary of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. last August 21, 2023.

Photo courtesy of Manila Bulletin / Richard A. Reyes/Philippine Daily Inquirer

In an official message released by Malacañang, Marcos called for a “meaningful and peaceful remembrance” and conveyed favorable sentiments about Ninoy Aquino, who led the opposition against his late dictator-father, Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

“I stand united with all Filipinos worldwide in commemorating Ninoy Aquino Day. By standing for his beliefs and fighting for battles he deemed right, he became an example of relentlessness and resolve for many Filipinos,” the president stated.

This marks a notable shift from his response last year, where he remained silent and did not release a message. 

Ninoy Aquino Day is a nationwide non-working holiday declared by the law in honor of the democratic figure when he was gunned down on August 21, 1983, at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), named in his memory.

This death sparked more tension between Marcoses and Aquinos as it occurred after a period of exile in the United States, during which Aquino endured imprisonment under false allegations during martial law.

With this, Marcos addressed existing political differences brought about by rivalry, urging the need to go beyond long-term political biases to continue moving forward as a progressive country.  

“Together, let us develop a Philippines grounded in reason and fortitude, where the boundaries of our personal biases fade and the welfare of all become our priority. As we take measured yet realistic strides towards progress, let us allow our indomitable  spirit to drive us to uplift every Filipino and build an inclusive and more progressive Philippines,” he said.

Moreover, the president highlighted his presidential battle cry, unity, as an element in dismantling political barriers set by the past. 

“In our resolute quest for a more united and prosperous Philippines, let us transcend political barriers that hamper us from securing the comprehensive welfare and advancement of our beloved people,” he asserted.

However, it is worth noting that despite Marcos’s continuous effort to convince Filipinos to overcome past differences, he did not mention anything about the abuses and corruption during the martial law regime, leaving people affected still longing for justice to this day.